Verizon: We’re Not Two-Faced, We Just Like To Claim Mutually Exclusive Things Are Both True

Verizon has a long history of trying to have it both ways: alternately courting and rejecting regulation, depending on which will most benefit their bottom line. It’s disingenuous, but effective. But now that someone has asked the FCC to investigate Verizon for perjury, Verizon’s fighting back. Their theme? We’re not two-faced. We just like to say a lot of mutually-exclusive things based on who we think is listening.

Last week, two telecom consumer advocates filed a petition with the FCC saying that Verizon’s constant back-and-forth isn’t just dishonest, but criminal. Saying two oppositional things at once and claiming both are true, they say, is perjury, and the FCC needs to investigate.

The petitioners call Verizon “the Janus of telecom,” referring to the ancient Roman god with two faces, suggesting that the company is, “‘two-faced’ or duplicitous.”

They call their petition an open and shut case, explaining, “Verizon either did or did not tell the FCC that their entire current investment in fiber optics is based entirely on using the Title II classification. Or that the Verizon companies have made phone customers ‘de facto’ investors by using Title II… We allege that Verizon did deceive the FCC. These material misrepresentations taint every FCC decision and policy affecting Verizon’s regulatory status, but most importantly now the Open Internet Proceeding.”

They continue, “Verizon has claimed and continues to claim that Title II would harm [Verizon’s] investments. However, this is in direct contradiction to Verizon’s own filings, statements, SEC and state-based filings, the companies’ cable franchise agreement—every fiber optic wire appears to be Title II.”

That’s all well and good. This week, as Ars Technica reports, Verizon finally responded to the petition. In a filing to the FCC, Verizon counters that the petition is “frivolous,” and “[recycles] old, baseless, and inaccurate claims that have been previously addressed and dismissed.”

“Verizon’s position is and has been consistent throughout the inception of its fiber deployment,” Verizon concludes, “and NNI’s frivolous Petition should be denied outright.”

The original petitioners plan to file a response to the response next week.

But perjury or not, Verizon certainly is certainly on a streak of saying two things at once and hoping nobody notices.

For example, late last year, Verizon CFO Francis Shammo accidentally admitted that contrary to everything Verizon has been saying, Title II regulation of broadband won’t actually stop the company from investing in new and existing networks. As the Washington Post reports, Verizon is now desperately trying to claim that those words don’t mean what we think they do.

In a statement this week, Shammo — the same executive who last month said “I mean to be real clear, this does not influence the way we invest” — now says:

Title II is an extreme and risky path that will jeopardize our investment and the development of innovation in broadband Internet and related services. It will also tie up the industry in a very uncertain time and cause all types of litigation.

Shammo claimed his actual statements from last year, as recorded and transcribed, were “misquoted,” then concluded by endorsing Congress’s plan to do an end-run around the FCC.


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